Over four million Americans have braces at any given time. They’re still the most-trusted tool when it comes to correcting misalignments and other orthodontic issues. However, that doesn’t mean that taking care of them is intuitive.
Learning how to brush your teeth with braces can seem a little bit daunting at first. How can you be sure that you’re cleaning all those nooks and crannies? How do you floss with wires in the way?
You might not have all of the answers, but with years of orthodontic experience, we do. We’re here to tell you everything we know about brushing with braces.
Read on for our guide to brushing with braces, including tons of helpful tips that will ensure that your oral hygiene routine is rock-solid.
How to Brush Your Teeth With Braces: The Basics
You’ve got your new braces, you’re at the bathroom sink, and it’s time to brush. What do you do? Read on for the five tips you need to start brushing with braces the right way.
1. Don’t Skip Day One
We know that on the first day of starting your braces treatment, you’re going to experience some soreness. This can also happen when you have your braces tightened every few weeks or months. When your mouth is feeling tender, it’s tempting to skip a day of brushing, but we urge you not to do this.
To combat the soreness, take the proper dosage of over-the-counter pain medicine. If you’re reading this guide for one of your little ones, take a look at how much pain medicine your kids can safely take. We often recommend Ibuprofen for braces-related soreness, but Aleve is also a good option.
2. Angle Your Toothbrush
Here’s the most important tip when it comes to brushing with braces: angle your toothbrush, rather than brushing directly towards your teeth. First, angle it downward so that the bristles can scrub above the brackets. Then, angle it upward so that the bristles can scrub above the brackets.
At first, this may seem like an awkward way to brush your teeth. However, you’ll get the hang of it after a few days, and doing so will remove more of the bacteria from your teeth and prevent the plaque build-up that some braces wearers face when they don’t adjust their brushing method.
3. Brush After Eating
You should always brush your teeth at least twice a day: once in the morning, preferably after you’ve eaten breakfast, and once before going to bed. This removes the bacteria that built up overnight and throughout the day, preventing plaque, keeping your teeth pearly white, and combatting bad breath.
When you have braces, you may want to add a third brushing cycle. Because of the brackets and wires on your teeth, food particles have more places to hide, even when you wash down each meal with water. By brushing after you eat lunch, you can reduce the chances of food getting stuck behind your wires or wedged in between the brackets.
4. Brush for Three Minutes
As we mentioned already, you might find that angling your toothbrush in a new way creates an awkward brushing experience. It can also take longer since you need to go over all of your teeth with the toothbrush angled up and down. To get the best results, we recommend brushing for three minutes, rather than the typical two minutes.
Set a timer or find a great song that plays for about three minutes. Make sure to do this for at least the first few weeks of having braces so that you get a sense of how long three minutes really is.
5. Be Gentle With Your Gums
Many people assume that when they’re brushing with braces, they need to brush harder. They might worry that a soft touch won’t scrub away all of those food particles and bacteria, or that the brackets and wires are preventing the bristles of their toothbrush from reaching their teeth. As long as you use the angle method, you don’t need to apply more pressure and, in fact, shouldn’t.
Brushing your teeth with too much force can put unnecessary strain on the gums. This, in turn, can lead to a variety of issues including causing your gums to recede. Don’t neglect your gums when you’re tending to your oral hygiene, but make sure that you’re using a gentle touch.
Bonus Tips for Braces Wearers
We all know that brushing isn’t the end of any good oral hygiene routine. You’ve got more questions about how to take care of your teeth and gums while wearing braces, and we’ve got more answers. Let’s take a look at some of our bonus tips on flossing, using mouthwash, and selecting the right oral hygiene products for braces wearers.
How to Floss With Braces
If you’re feeling stumped about how to floss with braces, you’re not alone. After all, you can’t slide floss between your teeth the way you used to when there are wires in the way!
This is where a floss threader is going to come in handy. Floss threaders look just like sewing needles, only they’re made from a gentle piece of rubber. Thread the floss through the eye of the threader, slip the threader between two teeth, floss as per usual, and repeat.
You can also purchase picks for teeth with rubber or plastic bristles to remove food particles between meals and snacks. While these picks don’t replace floss, they are a good tool to have on hand throughout the day.
How to Use Mouthwash With Braces
Can you use mouthwash with braces? The answer is yes, and we encourage it.
Make sure that you purchase a fluoride rinse that does not include teeth-whitening properties. Use the fluoride rinse at least twice a day after flossing and brushing. This will help to fortify your teeth and eliminate any remaining germs or acids that could cause long-term damage.
Picking the Right Products for Braces Care
Can you use an electric toothbrush with braces? As long as it comes with a sensitive or low mode, the answer is yes. Keep in mind that whether you are using an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush, you should still practice the angle method.
If you do decide to use a manual toothbrush, talk to your orthodontist about what brand and type to use. You may have to replace your manual toothbrush more often when wearing braces because the metal may cause the bristles to fan out faster than usual.
We mentioned earlier that you shouldn’t use mouthwash that contains teeth-whitening properties, and the same goes for your toothpaste. Always pick fluoride-based options that aren’t designed to whiten your teeth. This is because you don’t want to whiten the areas around your brackets only to discover when your braces are removed that the area under the brackets is a completely different color.
Making Your Job Easier By Avoiding Certain Foods
You’ve probably heard by now that when you’re wearing braces, you want to avoid certain foods. The list includes:
- chewing gum that isn’t sugar-free
- crunchy foods like potato chips, nuts, and hard pretzels
- popcorn and corn on the cob
- hard candy like lollipops and jawbreakers
- sticky or chewy candy
Why is this so important? The biggest reason is that foods that are exceptionally hard or sticky, like pretzels or gummy candy, can damage your wires and brackets. While you don’t need to stick to a diet of soft foods, you should be mindful of anything that is going to put a strain on the hardware on your teeth.
Another reason is that some of these foods, like corn on the cob, have a tendency to get stuck to brackets or behind wires. While a diligent flosser is likely to remove these food particles quickly, it’s not always worth the risk that you won’t notice right away and that you’ll develop a buildup of plaque, as a result.
Looking for a Castle Pines Orthodontist?
People have been using braces to straighten their teeth and correct orthodontic issues for decades, and the technology keeps on getting better. Still, it’s not uncommon to wonder how to brush your teeth with braces. We hope that this guide will make it easy to develop a braces-friendly oral hygiene routine that you can stick to.
Are you looking for a Castle Pines orthodontist for you or your family? We’re happy to fill that role! Fill out our new patient contact form and we’ll be in touch right away about your orthodontic needs and the services we can provide.